The Hokies played their best half of basketball of the year in a 76-52 win over VMI on Saturday night. Tech improved to 2-1 with the win, while the Keydets dropped to 1-2 on the season.
Virginia Tech did not play a particularly good first half. They struggled to get good shots, and turnovers were and issue. They also couldn’t stop VMI guard QJ Peterson, who had 18 first half points. The teams were tied at 29 at the intermission, and the Hokies blew a comfortable 22-13 lead.
However, the second half was a different story. Tech began the half on an 11-2 run, and after a pair of free throws by Zach LeDay, they held a 40-31 lead with 16:27 remaining. VMI was later able to cut the lead to 41-36, but that was as close as they would come.
The Hokies then went on a 9-2 run that was sparked by a three-pointer from Seth Allen, and a three-point play by Johnny Hamilton. Hamilton grabbed an offensive rebound after a miss by Justin Robinson, hit a layup, and was fouled. After he converted the free throw, Tech led 50-38 and the rout was on.
Tech gradually extended its lead, with Seth Allen and Justin Bibbs bombing away from three-point range, and Hamilton and LeDay doing the dirty work on the glass. Seth Allen’s three-pointer with 30 seconds remaining created the final score of 76-52, and gave him a team-high 17 points. Allen was 5-of-11 from the field and 3-of-5 from three-point range in what was easily his best game in a Tech uniform.
Zach LeDay added another double-double – his second in three games – with 11 points and 10 rebounds. He was a perfect 7-of-7 from the free throw line. He’s now averaging 18 points and 11.3 rebounds per game.
Tech got big minutes from Johnny Hamilton off the bench. The 7-foot center from Trinidad and Tobago finished with 8 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks in 16 minutes of action. He, Kerry Blackshear (2 points, 6 rebounds, 15 minutes) and Shane Henry (2 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks, 14 minutes) seem to have taken all the minutes at center away from Satchel Pierce (0 points, 0 rebounds, 2 turnovers, 2 minutes).
Freshman wing Chris Clarke had another impressive performance, scoring 14 points and grabbing five boards. He got to the free throw line frequently, where he went 8-of-12. Justin Bibbs added 11 points, and freshman point guard Justin Robinson also had 11. Jalen Hudson only played five minutes, and he did not record any statistics in the box score.
For the third straight game, the Hokies were able to get to the basket at will. Free throws were lopsided in favor of the Hokies, who went 24-of-33 (72.7%) to VMI’s 5-of-6. They also outrebounded the Keydets 49-37 after being outrebounded 19-18 in the first half. Turnovers was the biggest issue in this game for the Hokies, who gave away the ball 17 times.
Virginia Tech returns to action on Tuesday night against North Carolina A&T. Tipoff is scheduled for 7pm, and the game can be viewed on ESPN3.